After all, your customers have plenty of options for other places to purchase products or services like yours. What sets you apart from the competition is creating a thoughtful, delightful customer experience from the very first interaction with a potential customer to every touchpoint along the customer journey.
But for the employees who are on the front lines dealing with customers every day, providing best-in-class customer service might not come naturally or easily. Customer service is a skill that’s learned over time and practiced regularly, not something most people are born with. This is true whether your employees are new on the job or have been in your industry for years—customer service skills can always be improved and kept up to date.
This is why customer service certification is so vital for businesses that want to grow. You can provide training opportunities from a variety of sources for your employees so they are equipped to create exceptional customer experiences every day at work. And there are many different kinds of customer service certification courses available so you can find the one that’s the best fit for you and your employees.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about what customer service training is and the kinds of certifications and trainings available today. Let’s dive in.
What is customer service training and certification?
Customer service training involves helping your customer-facing employees learn and practice the skills they need to provide great customer service. These skills include sharpening communication skills so employees can communicate effectively with customers, and helping them learn how to anticipate and analyze different kinds of interactions with customers so they know how to handle them effectively.
And these courses aren’t just for your newest customer service reps either. While experienced employees will have already had plenty of practice in dealing with many types of customers and situations, they can still benefit from learning new ways to further sharpen their skills. And they can pass the benefit of their wisdom down to their less-experienced coworkers as well, so everyone benefits.
Why customer service training is important
The importance of good customer service is pretty difficult to overstate. It’s vital to gaining and keeping customers for your business. In fact, 89% of consumers are more likely to make another purchase after a positive customer service experience, according to Salesforce. And research from Bain & Company has shown that businesses can grow their revenues between 4% and 8% above their market when they prioritize better customer service experiences.
Providing top-notch customer service doesn’t just help your customers feel good about their purchases—It helps retain them over the long haul. And retaining customers instead of constantly having to acquire new ones is important for the financial health of your business. In fact, it costs between 5 and 25 times more to invest in gaining new customers than retaining the ones you already have.
All these facts and figures point to one clear finding—investing in customer service certification and training has a potentially large ROI. Your business will benefit from spending the time and money to train your customer-facing employees on how to provide great customer experiences.
Customer service courses and training
There are many kinds of customer service courses and training available on the market today. They can range from simple online courses that take a few hours to complete, to intense in-person courses that last for a few weeks. Some go in-depth on just one area or topic, and some cover a wider base of knowledge. These are the options we recommend most for anyone looking to improve customer service in their business.
Customer Service Training by Alison
This customer service training program is designed for employees at all stages of their customer service career. Alison’s training teaches reps how to deal with difficult situations with customers, as well as providing insight into why those situations happen in the first place. The training introduces the basics of customer service through an online course that takes only 1-2 hours to complete.
Alison’s course is helpful if you’re working to create a customer-focused approach to customer service, for situations like handling complaints or questions and dealing with stressful situations. This training program is free, and it provides plenty of value delivering the essentials of customer satisfaction.
Customer service courses by Bonfire Training
Bonfire offers several options for customer service training for reps. Their Customer Service Essentials course is their flagship offering, and it helps teach your team how to transform every customer interaction into a positive customer experience. It teaches reps through a combination of confidence-building communication techniques and real-world examples they can put to use in their own work. This course is a one-day onsite training, but remote options are also available.
Bonfire’s Customer Service Advantage specifically addresses how to handle difficult interactions with customers, and teaches reps how to offer real and effective solutions instead of just apologizing and explaining. It’s focused on doing more than just learning how to satisfy customers, and instead building behaviors that promote customer loyalty as well as morale and teamwork in your workplace.
Both courses are one-day on-site trainings, but live remote options are also available. The price of the courses is available upon request.
Culture of Services: New Perspective on Customer Relations from edx.org
This free course from education platform edX is a customer relations training program from Kyoto University. It teaches reps about the social and cultural aspects of customer service, how to analyze customer interactions, and how to critique the customer service they’re currently offering. Using videos of real service interactions from industries like food service, retail, and hospitality, reps gain a new perspective on handling customers and creating a great customer experience.
It’s an eight-week online customer service course that takes only about 2-3 hours per week to complete. The basic course itself is free, but you can upgrade your enrollment to include instructor support, feedback on work, and a certificate of completion when the course is finished.
Where to get your customer service certification
Customer service training is great, but you might want to up your service offerings to the next level and get an official certification for your reps. This is where programs that provide customer service certifications are highly useful.
Having an official certification from an accredited institution provides an independent verification that your employees are truly customer service professionals. It can also help keep your whole team up to date on the latest best practices for providing great customer service. Your employees are often the first line of contact with your business, and they also are the company representatives when issues or problems arise. Ensuring they have the expert training needed to handle those situations gracefully is vital for providing a great customer experience.
The Customer Service Institute of America
The Customer Service Institute of America, also known as the CSIA, trains professionals all across the world in providing service excellence. They offer several certification options for both individuals and teams, and they also manage the International Service Excellence Awards. CSIA trainings are recognized in the customer service industry across the globe. And they are an effective way to show your stakeholders, employees, and customers how dedicated your business is to providing an excellent customer service experience.
The Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCEP) program is designed to equip people in customer service roles with the ability to focus on customer needs and enhance the overall customer experience. By taking the Maximizing the Customer Experience course, attendees will be certified as CCEPs. The course takes about 6.5 hours to complete and is completely online.
Becoming a certified customer service manager, or CCSM, will give you a deeper understanding of the theory behind customer service and customer experience. It can develop your management and leadership skills as well and prepare you for a higher level role within the customer service world.
National Customer Service Association
The National Customer Service Association (NCSA) is a membership organization that was founded to equip members with the skills and information you need to build strong and enduring relationships with customers. They provide services to their members such as marketing, employee training, and a quarterly customer service magazine.
Becoming a Certified Customer Service Professional (CCSP) means focusing on customer interactions, the foundations of service, and other related topics like HR practices and coaching. It’s designed for management-level professionals who are committed to the highest standards of customer service. You must have two years of CX experience and pass an exam to receive this certification from the NCSA.
CCPC Global Inc.
The Canadian Council of Professional Certification (CCPC Global) was created to recognize accomplished professionals who have high levels of skills and knowledge in many different fields, including customer service.
They offer certification programs in multiple fields, and have two main customer service certifications for the global market. Their highly experienced and trained program facilitators make the certification courses enjoyable and engaging, and as well as informative.
The Certified Client Service Specialist (CCSS) program is a three-course system that gives attendees the right to call themselves Customer Service Specialists when they’ve completed the course. It teaches reps how to become experts in customer service and sales with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. This certification will ensure all your customer service reps have high levels of professional customer service skills, as well as standardizing customer service practices among your team.
The Certified Client Service Professional (CCSP) certification is a customer service training program for aspiring customer service leaders. It trains attendees in a six-course program that teaches skills like customer service, sales, coaching, and leadership. The CCSP course will help your organization develop and train leaders who are deeply knowledgeable about both the theory and the practice of customer service excellence.
What to do after certification
Once your customer service reps have received training, a new certification, or both, what are the next steps? The learning process doesn’t stop after just one course or certificate. And many of the certification programs require continuing education to renew the certification every year or every few years.
To keep the learnings from customer service certification and courses fresh for your team, here are a few ideas.
Provide internal trainings
Once the course or certificate is completed, your team will be back to doing their normal tasks every day and putting their learnings into practice. But after a while, the insights they gained from their training might start to fade.
Help keep all the information they learned fresh by providing regular internal trainings on customer service topics. These could be monthly lunch and learns, a formal training with an outside speaker every six months, or something else that works for your organization. The key is to keep the learning going within your team.
Share best practices
For newer reps, training and certifications are vital to learning how to do their jobs. But there’s another great source of information and expertise available—your highly experienced reps who have been in their roles for years or decades.
Finding a way to promote best practice sharing between new reps and experienced ones can benefit both sides. New reps will get coaching and advice from their more seasoned peers, and experienced reps will gain leadership and coaching experience. You can provide a formal mentoring program, or just create informal opportunities for this kind of knowledge-sharing.
Keep a suggested reading list
An effective and easy way to continue the learning and development process for customer service reps is to suggest books they might read to learn more about their industry. You can create a suggested reading list for interested reps, start an office book club to discuss related books, or maintain a lending library on customer service topics so reps can read when they like.
Providing a delightful and thoughtful customer service experience can help your business stand out from the competition, keep your customers loyal and satisfied, and increase your bottom line as well. Leaving such an important aspect of your business to chance and hoping customer service reps will learn as they go is not a strategy for success.
But fortunately, there are many options to improve your customer service experience through training and certifications. Finding the right choice for your team and reps is vital so they get the expert training that will help them excel in their roles, and this guide covered just a few of the many options out there today.